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Gunman kills 1, wounds 9 at Empire State Building

NEW YORK — A disgruntled former women's accessories designer shot a former colleague to death Friday and then was killed in a shootout with police near the Empire State Building that left nine others wounded, officials said.

COLLEEN LONG, TOM HAYS,Associated Press Modified: August 24, 2012 at 9:40 am •  Published: August 24, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — A laid-off women's accessories designer shot a former coworker to death in front of the Empire State Building, causing a chaotic showdown with police Friday in front of one of the world's best-known landmarks. Police killed the suspect and at least nine others were wounded, some possibly by police gunfire, city officials said.

Some of the wounded were grazed by bullets and others hit directly, but all were expected to survive, officials said.

The gunshots rang out on the Fifth Avenue side of the building at around 9 a.m., a time of day when the sidewalks around the building are packed with pedestrians and merchants were opening their shops.

“People were yelling `Get down! Get down!”, said Marc Engel, an accountant who was on a bus in the area when he heard the shots. “It took about 15 seconds, a lot of `pop, pop, pop, pop, one shot after the other.”

Afterward, he saw the sidewalks littered with the wounded, including one person “dripping enough blood to leave a stream.”

After the shootout, crowds of tourists and people on their way to work gathered along 34th Street, which was shut down by police. Police helicopters buzzed overhead and swarms of officers were gathered around the crime scene.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, was laid off about a year ago at Hazan Imports and fired three times at the company's 41-year-old office manager, shooting the man in the head, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The two had traded accusations of harassment when Johnson worked there, he said.

Johnson walked away, and a construction worker who saw the shooting followed Johnson and alerted police, officials said. Surveillance video footage shows Johnson reaching into a bag, pulling out a .45-caliber pistol and pointing it at officers, Kelly said. The officers drew their weapons and started firing, killing Johnson, Kelly said.

Kelly initially said that Johnson fired on officers, but police said later they were trying to determine whether Johnson actually fired shots.

The two officers fired a total of 14 rounds, he said. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the nine wounded may have been shot by police in the mayhem. Johnson's semi-automatic weapon was equipped to fire at least eight rounds; at least one round was left in the clip, police said.

YouTube: Raw Video from Shooting Outside Empire State Bldg.

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